I have lots of thoughts on the offseason. So many, in fact, that I haven’t had time to arrange them in my head. Kind of like dumping a jigsaw puzzle on the table for the first time. I’ve found most of the edge pieces and started grouping things into vague color groupings. So you aren’t getting a full, well thought out article here. Just my piles of greens, oranges, and pieces that I can kind of make out a face in.
Brad Stevens’ promotion was about the biggest shock of the offseason thus far. In retrospect, it is interesting/odd that they didn’t make a play for a more established GM like Sam Presti or even Masai Ujiri. But that doesn’t mean that Brad won’t do the job as well as anyone. He’s clearly a brilliant basketball mind with a great work ethic. We just don’t know what we’re getting with him and we won’t really know for sure till he starts making moves.
Of course the first move is to find a coach. Of the names that I keep hearing, my favorites (in no particular order) are Sam Cassell, Kara Lawson, Chauncey Billups, and Becky Hammon. But I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t know much if anything about the real basketball qualifications this team needs. Relating to the players seems to be a buzz-phrase that makes sense. I just hope they know how to implement a good defense, too. Regardless, if I were picking someone to pick the best coach, I would want Brad Stevens doing the picking.
Stepping back to a big picture perspective, I’m still a little shook over how this all happened. I’ve long touted the Celtics leadership as a strength. They have owners who care but don’t meddle too much. They had Ainge who has more career-defining transactions than grey hairs. And they had Brad Stevens who could have his pick of 75% of the NBA and college coaching jobs if he wanted them. Now the coaching position is vacant, the GM is green, and the owners are staring down a tax bill that would make Jeff Bezos blink. Maybe it will all work out, and there’s reason enough to think it will. I just feel like I walked off the cruise ship and I’m remembering what walking on land feels like.
So now what? (shrug emoji) Later in the offseason I’ll have more well thought out umm, ...thoughts (see what I mean?). But for the moment, I’m not really sure of anything beyond “build around Tatum and Brown.”
The easiest path is typically the most likely outcome, so in each individual case I feel like there’s a good chance that Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, and Evan Fournier could be back next year. But on the aggregate, it feels like at least one of them might have to go. These are the kinds of circles I talk myself into.
Then of course there’s the math. Hard caps, cap holds, trade exceptions, and tax aprons (anyone picture an accountant grilling burgers?) are enough to make my head hurt. But when someone smart like CelticsBlog’s very own Keith Smith explains it, everything seems so easy and straightforward like an open book test. Except that GMs have to play out thousands of scenarios on the fly with real long-term consequences if they get anything wrong. Here’s hoping they gave Mike Zarren a healthy raise to keep balancing the checkbook.
At this point I could imagine running it back with some changes on the margins and hoping that rest and recovery are enough to make the difference. If I squint I could maybe envision a blockbuster centered on Jaylen Brown and Bradley Beal. But chances are something in the middle will happen with either Kemba, Smart, or Tristan Thompson. Theoretically we might know more about the team’s moves at or around the NBA Draft which would signal what we’ll be doing with Evan Fournier.
But there’s still a lot of playoffs left to get through before we get any answers. Till then, I’ll just keep sorting my pieces into piles. Is that one a shoe or a clipboard?